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Monday, August 6, 2012

Labor Day Memories by Paty Jager

Photo of Wallowa Mountains up Joseph Creek

Since I kick off the month at Romancing the Genres this month’s topic is a bit early but Labor Day weekends were our final summer fling when I was growing up.

 We lived two and a half miles up the county road out of Lostine. This road continued another ten miles beyond us to end in the heart of the Wallowa Mountains. Many nature seekers; backpackers, horse packers, fishermen traveled the road in the summer months to get to the base of the trails taking them farther into the mountains and to the high lakes.

We always went camping on Labor Day weekend and didn’t have to deal with highway traffic. We’d load up the tents and camp gear on Wednesday evening and head up the river to a spot that wasn’t a real campground but was flat and near the river. We’d set up tents and chairs and make it look like someone was camped then head home until my parents got off work on Friday night. Then my brothers and I and mom and dad would head up and shortly my mom’s best friend, a divorced woman with five boys would arrive with tents and a small camper and some years there would be another family from the clinic where my mom and her friend worked that might join us.

The weekend was spent wading in the water, walking through the forest, or for me, reading in the great outdoors. Because my dad was a little league coach and my brothers as well as three of the Thompson boys were on his teams over the years we always had one game of baseball, using whatever we could find for bases. Dad always was the umpire/catcher. The year someone threw the ball to home and it glanced off the garbage can lid and gave my dad a black eye was the last time we played baseball at camp.
Photo of Eagle Cap Wilderness taken from my Dad's

One summer, when I was twelve or thirteen, we hauled the horses( one for mom, one for my younger brother, one for my dad, and a pack horse) to the end of the road. My older brother and I and my brand new dachshund puppy walked(I carried the puppy most of the way)  the five miles up the trail to Minam Lake. It was a beautiful lake. Crystal clear water, abundant grass and forest around it. When we woke the next morning, there was two inches of snow and it was still coming down. We ate a quick breakfast and headed down the mountain.  Two days later the horse my mom was riding was found dead in the pasture. The mare was over 30 years old.

While our kids were young we always made it a point to go to Lostine and camp with my family on Labor Day weekend. Since my mom passed away nearly twenty years ago, the Labor Day campouts discontinued.  Now with our kids spread out, we usually spend the weekend and week after at Princeton. The Harney county fair is that week so we work on the place and attend the small town county fair.

Do you have good memories of Labor Day Weekend? 

Photos taken by: Paty Jager


D. McCollum D. McCollum said...

When my kids were young we camped for the weekend at Yosemite National Park. My husband couldn't get off early in the week so I drove the car pulling the 23' trailer behind. This was the first time I pulled the trailer, and got it all set up. The kids and I had three days of fun and then Thursday night my husband arrived with 50,000 other people! It was not that fun when the park was over crowded.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Paty, What good memories you have of Labor Day! I bet your mom's old mare died happy after that trip!

My father was a pilot and our closest relatives lived 400 miles away, so most years Labor Day wasn't a big family gathering. Often, Dad was away in Cairo or Rio or some other exotic locale.

But some years, when Dad was able to be home for the holiday, my Aunt Jean and her family would come up for a visit. That was always a special time for us kids.

Now we live a few hours from one of our sons' families and from my Mom and sister and brother-in-law. We spend Labor Day weekend with one or the other group of relatives and enjoy every minute.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Paty, Your pictures are spectacular! When I was growing up, we'd have a big family BBQ. My mother was one of 5 children and one brother (with 7 children), my grandparents (until I was 9 and then just my grandmother), another aunt and uncle would come over. My Dad grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, potatoe salad, cole slaw, jello salad were staples. Desert was always watermelon and I also remember a great chocolate cake.

We kids ran around and played games (tag, kick the can, badminton).

We were great on family but not so much on camping. Still that way today although my youngest granddaughter enjoys camping even with spiders in her vicinity LOL.

Paty Jager said...

Diana, That's why we always set up camp in a spot where it was only us and not at a campground.

Sarah, All of our relatives when I was growing up lived far away so it was a holiday for just our immediate family and kind of a wind down from farming all summer. I bet you enjoyed your cousins when they visited!

Judith, Your Labor Day celebration sounds like fun! We never had family close by to do a big BBQ like that.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Paty,
That was a great blog. What lovely memories you have of your weekends away. Something to treasure for a lifetime.



Paty Jager said...

Margaret, Thanks! I draw a lot from my childhood when writing. Everyone has a moment in their life where the experience can be carried into a character.

deanne said...

Hi Paty...
I love the pictures and can see how your background has really inspired your writing. My labor days were typically spent helping my mom prepared her classroom for the beginning of the school year... so I guess a bit different.

Thanks so much for sharing your memories.

Paty Jager said...

HI Deanne, Thanks for stopping in. Yes, the way I grew up had a lot to do with what I write about.

I would have loved to help a teacher set up their room. I loved school!! My brothers didn't understand it but I love learning. One of the great things about being a writer, with all the research I am in my element!